Sam took a look at BOOM! Studios’ offerings this week – with Giant Days reeling her back in and Lumberjanes continuing to impress. Kylee looks forward to every new issue of The Paybacks, if only to see what z-team hero the creators can come up with next.
Jackson looks at a rather niche Batman Europa from DC Comics, as well as Marvel’s Star Wars: Vader Down and the newest Ms. Marvel #1. It’s a rare week where we all seemed to enjoy the books on our personal pull lists.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you think in the comments!
Giant Days #8
Author: John Allison
Artist: Max Sarin
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
Just when I was starting to find the series a little weary it drags me back in with a fantastic issue like this one. Seriously, this is the issue that probably best portrays my own college experience. I mean, Daisy spends the entire issue obsessed with Friday Night Lights after binging on the series. That’s basically my life. At least she manages to do some good with her Coach Taylor pep talks. She helps Ed join the school newspaper and find his people.
Meanwhile Susan is dealing with her hatred of winter with McGraw’s help. When she refuses to go outside he tracks down a tree and builds her a sled, which at least gets her out and about. (It also forces him into a life of servitude and dragging her around – the things we do for love!) And Esther has fallen for pretty boy TA Ian… only to find out he’s kind of a dick who expects her to act like a proper woman instead of being herself. The joke, of course, is on him since it turns out the people he knows secretly like her better.
This issue had me at “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!”
Author: Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh
Artist: Carolyn Nowak
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
After mucking up the merpeoples’ concert, April is in a bind. Things back in the lake are a disaster. Her friends are upset at her for abandoning them to follow her own selfish plan and ignoring their plans for that night’s jamboree. Still, she’s determined to make everything right. After a quick heart to heart with Harlow she’s able to pass on the mix tape which Taylor and her are still able to bond over – even if the concert is a wash. Taylor realizes that her friendship with Harlow is worth more than anything else and she finally kicks Carter to the curb. The band gets to play at the Lumberjane jamboree, Ripley gets her sparky glitter dress, and everyone ends up learning a lot about friendship (to the max).
Personally, I think everyone was hard on April. There’s no reason they couldn’t have left Jen to watch after April and gone back to get ready for that night themselves. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for her to jump at the chance to hang with merpeople. But maybe that’s just because I know our co-editor Therese so well and I’ve long since come to terms with the fact that she would abandon me for mermaids in a heartbeat. I hope we see more of Harlow and Taylor in the future. (And I hope we get some sort of answer on how electric guitars and vans work underwater.)
The Paybacks #3
With one liners, visual gags, and some hilariously clever nods to pop-culture, The Paybacks #3 continues to be one of the must-read series from Dark Horse. In this issue, readers get to dig into the backstory of Miss Adventure, resolving the cliffhanger from last issue and making us more invested in her fate. We also dig further into the overarching mystery of who is killing the Paybacks’ targets before they have a chance to repo them.
Every time I think Cates and Rahal can’t introduce a funnier B-team hero, we’re treated to new teams and failures. This issue gave us a look at Echo squad’s failed repo and introduced us to Haymaker, Killer Queen (“Dynamite with a laser beam.”), Hu-Mannequin, and the leader, The Prick. That’s it, that’s the joke and, with that momentum at the beginning of the issue, it carried me giggling throughout the rest. The absurd world that the writers have built ties in perfectly with the artistic team of Shaw and Affe, who have helped to define the gritty, dark comedy of The Paybacks.
While it started out heavily satirical, The Paybacks has really grown into a dark comedy series that brings laughs one moment and uncomfortable truths in the next, giving readers a lot to chew on with each issue.
Batman Europa #1 of 4
Batman Europa is one of those lost comic projects without much of a story behind it. Unlike the recently published Captain America: White or Gendy Tartakovsky’s long fabled Luke Cage run, Batman Europa is a book that just, y’know, didn’t happen. People waited for it but it never quite made it from the drawing board to the page. Now, more than a decade after it was first announced, it’s on store shelves and well, it’s something of an odd comic that’s going to appeal to a very specific kind of Batman fan.
A split between European and American comics creators, Batman Europa #1 is written by Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello and has layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli, whose most well known for his Spider-Man run. Most strange of the book is the finishes. Jim Lee draws over Camuncoli and it’s not quite a match made in heaven. Lee is most known for his frayed, detail heavy, boldly penciled work with lots of grit and grime and it doesn’t quite mesh with Camuncoli’s softer focus.
There are moments that work well. A brutal fist fight between the Joker and Batman in the book’s opening is strong but, just pages later, a fight with Killer Croc is almost bereft of substance or weight. Both combatants are too lithe, especially in a scene wihere all the dialogue tries to emphasize the brutality. It’s a strange effect. The story, however, is stronger. Batman is heading to Berlin after the Joker and he’s quickly wrapped into a globetrotting plot and forced to join forces with the Clown Prince of Crime.
Batman’s been fairly Gotham focused since the end of Morrison’s Batman Incorporated run and it’s nice to see him back on a world stage in a story that most draws from Denny O’Neil’s James Bond inspired take on the character in the mid to late-70s. For fans of that very specific era, one that gave us Ra’s al Ghul and a host of other memorable parts of the mythos, it’s neat to see a modern book pay homage to such a specific moment in the character’s history. I’m just not sure how much a casual fan, or even fairly modern Batman fans are going to get out of it.
Star Wars: Vader Down #1
One of the biggest complaints leveled against the Star Wars prequels was that rather than flesh out Anakin Skywalker as a character or give credence to his fall from grace, it made him look weak, frail and too human, rather than the near supernatural force he is in the first Star Wars films. That’s the danger of overexposure, particularly of a character who makes such an impression, like Darth Vader. There’s a risk of Marvel hobbling the Dark Lord of the Sith in the comics as well, between their ongoing Darth Vader series as well as making him the focus of the first new Star Wars crossover series, Vader Down. Instead, writer Jason Aaron and artist Mike Deodato double down on what made Vader such an icon and deliver one of the most action packed, exciting comics Marvel has released all year.
Following the events of Darth Vader #12, Vader thinks he has a chance to capture his son and runs into a Rebel squadron on patrol. Sensing a chance to bring down the Emperor’s greatest soldier, Leia launches the full might of the fleet and brings Vader down on a derelict planet and goes in for the kill. Unfortunately, it seems as if everyone has again underestimated one of the masters of the Sith. “All I am surrounded by is fear,” Vader says as Rebels circle him. “And dead men.” If that scene doesn’t give you chills, cancel your Force Awakens tickets.
Deodato more than delivers here with rich, densely detailed and vibrantly colored scenes of chaos, death and destruction that balances stylish details and photorealism better than most of Marvel’s Star Wars books have. Better, it’s nice to see a Star Wars book where every character is mercilessly competent and willing to fight to the death for what they think needs done. It’s a great, exciting book, as good of a summation of the Star Wars line over the last year as an opening book for someone who wants to hop into Marvel’s take on the license.
Ms. Marvel #1
For all intents and purposes, the new Ms. Marvel #1 might as well be Ms. Marvel #20. It’s the same creative team as the one that just wrapped the first run on the character, the story picks up 8 months after Secret Wars and the ending of the last issue and the only notable change is the book paying some reference to Kamala Khan becoming a member of the Avengers. For the five or six people who missed out on the first run of Ms. Marvel, this works as an entry point for the character but it’s a throughly unnecessary relaunch, one of many of Marvel’s recent ones (see this week’s The Mighty Thor #1 for a particularly egregious example).
Pulled apart by her new duties with Tony Stark and Sam Wilson’s new Avengers team, Kamala’s letting things slip in Jersey. She’s shocked by Bruno falling for a new girl and the way her neighborhood is being overtaken by gentrifying yuppies with super villainous muscle. It’s a fairly slow opening issue, more interested in establishing the new status quo, primarily Kamala and Bruno’s new dynamic but that’s not necessarily a bad thing but it feels as if the dynamic intensity of the Avengers focused opening should carry on to the rest of the book.
That split, between super heroics and character work, table-setting and action, defines the first issue. Artists Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa split the issue working from G. Willow Wilson’s script and the two’s strengths, action and grounded character-interaction, visually break the issue in two. It all makes for a notably divided issue, one pulled apart by two masters. All in all, it’s still an issue of Ms. Marvel and it makes for one of the best books on the stands but it’s also probably the least exciting issue of the series yet, one that doesn’t quite manage to show off what makes the character such an instant icon.